Are biodegradable products enough to save the planet?

There has been a recent surge in companies and laws pushing for biodegradable items. Is this enough to make a difference?

In recent years, many companies and governments have made the push for biodegradable or recyclable packaging or products. Lush for one, Kelloggs, and even Samsung. Now, Lego is going to join the pack.

Lego has unveiled its plans for new Lego bricks made out of recycled plastic. Lego has had bricks made out of plant-based plastic since 2018 and though they are not biodegradable, they are made from sugar cane which releases less carbon dioxide during production according to Géraldine Kutas from Sugarcane.org. 

Washington also recently passed a law banning restaurants from automatically giving single-use plastics such as lids, straws and utensils out unless the customer asks for them. 

This law went into effect on Jan. 1. This law is great in theory, but I’ve gotten takeout from a few restaurants and it seems they are still just giving away these plastics, even when you tell them you don’t need them. 

While this is great, the question I have is, is it enough to seriously make a difference in the environment?

Jim Robbins from YaleEnvironmental360 magazine says no. He reports that bioplastics are just not enough to completely change our recycling and trashing habits.

A Pew research study done in 2020 reports that the current commitments done by the government and other industries will only cut the amount of plastic going into the ocean by 7% by 2040.

7%. Which is good, yes, but it’s not enough. 

Renee Cho from the Columbia Climate School said that switching to corn-based plastic would reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 25%. However, if traditional plastics were made using renewable energy sources greenhouse gas emissions would be reduced by 50% to 75%. 

Cho also said, if biodegradable plastics are not disposed of properly, they can release methane which is a greenhouse gas that is 23 times more potent than carbon dioxide.  

There are better things that we can do to help save the planet and while this is a step in the right direction, it is not enough.

Obviously, the most important actions that we, as a country and really as a world, can take are to keep fossil fuels in the ground and to switch to renewable energy sources.

We must stop relying on oil or gas for energy, it is the only way we will be able to save the planet. 

Doing these two things will help to drastically reduce the amount of fossil fuels being pumped into the atmosphere daily.